THE MARQUESS OF CLANRICARDE
presented Petitions of Andrew Sillars and others of the crew of the Tornado, and of Catherine Macpherson, widow of third mate of the Tornado, for compensation and redress for injuries sustained from the Spanish Government. As their Lordships were well aware these petitioners had undergone a great deal of hardship; their property had been taken away, though they had committed no offence either against municipal or International Law. They had been treated as if they were prisoners of war, and yet they had done nothing which could render them liable to such treatment. It was now three years and a-half since their property was taken, and they had obtained no redress whatever for the injuries they had suffered. It was entirely unprecedented that these people should have their money taken from them, and having suffered such grievances they were surely entitled to know why. It was true that they had been set at liberty upon the remonstrances of our Government some time ago; but their property had not been restored, and no attempt had been made by the Spanish Government to consider their case. The opinion of the lawyers of this country was that they had been treated in a lawless manner. He hoped his noble Friend the Foreign Secretary would give his attention to their case; for, notwithstanding the difficulties which all must acknowledge to have arisen from the change of Government in Spain, it could not be denied that there was no case for further delay. He wished to know what had been done in the matter?
§ THE EARL OF CLARENDON
I am afraid I cannot give a very distinct answer to the Question that has been put by my noble Friend; but all your Lordships must be aware that this unfortunate ease has been very protracted, and that, owing partly to the proceedings of the Spanish courts and partly to those of the counsel for the defendants, this case has become one of great intricacy as well as great delay. All the Papers have been laid on the table of the House except a few which I can present next week. Those who study the case will see that my noble Friend the late Secre- 354 tary for Foreign Affairs did everything he possibly could to protect the right of the prisoners to an impartial tribunal, and Sir John Crampton was particularly instructed to demand the liberation of the crew. There have been two trials; at the first the prisoners were represented; at the second they were not. The Spanish Government has all along considered the men as prisoners of war. Macpherson was actually in the service of the Chilian Government, and was taken prisoner in the ship as it was going into the service of Chili. My noble Friend, after consulting the Law Officers respecting the second trial, felt unable to maintain that there had been any denial of justice; but as mere had been a promise to a certain extent that the case should be re-heard, we have sent out to ask for a new trial. We have not yet received a definitive answer from the Spanish Government, but we know from Sir John Crampton that the matter has been decided by the Supreme Council in Spain, and is now under the consideration of the Government. I can only say that if there is anything we can do, either in the shape of remonstrance or argument, I shall be most happy to do it; but I am sure the Spanish Government will not take the same view of the matter as that taken by my noble Friend. The Spanish Government regards the vessel as a vessel of war and a good prize, and the men consequently as prisoners of war. It is not therefore probable that Spain will pay the indemnity my noble Friend claims.
THE MARQUESS OF CLANRICARDE
said, he did not believe any opinion existed declaring the trial to have been a proper one, nor that Spain would venture to declare, in the face of Europe, that a trial in which persons were examined under torture could be a fair one. Lord Stanley had not admitted that the trial and confiscation were legal, and he hoped the noble Earl had not done so.
§ Petition ordered to be laid upon the Table.
§ House adjourned at Seven o'clock, till To-morrow, half past Ten o'clock.